Theo Walcott was apparently out on a golf course when he received the dreaded phone call from his international manager yesterday. The call to confirm the Arsenal winger’s omission from the England World Cup squad will have come as something of a shock to Walcott as he has featured prominently in Capello’s squads since the Italian took over.
Why has he been omitted?
Walcott has simply struggled for form and fitness with his club this season. The speedy winger has repeatedly been guilty of failing to provide the final ball to match his searing pace and dribbling skills for Arsene Wenger’s side.
Too often the Emirates has echoed to the sounds of groans rather than appreciative roars with Walcott’s inconsistent displays frustrating rather than inspiring his team.
Capello also has the \’luxury’ of a fit-again Aaron Lennon. In contrast to Walcott, the diminutive Spurs winger has improved his crossing and final pass since returning from injury and helped inspire his side to the qualifiers of the Champions League. Crucially for Capello a fit and in-form Lennon has shown he can be equally as devastating on either wing which is a bonus for the Italian manager should injuries hamper England’s progress.
The most obvious reason for being left out though is that Walcott has simply failed to impress for England since scoring a hat-trick against Croatia a few years ago. Capello is reported to have been less than enamoured with Walcott’s general attitude and performances in England’s recent friendly internationals which proved the final nail in the Arsenal winger’s coffin.
Surely Walcott is a better option than Shaun Wright-Phillips or Joe Cole?
It is a fair point to suggest that neither Man City’s Shaun Wright-Phillips nor Chelsea’s Joe Cole are better options on the wing for England. Neither player possesses Walcott’s pace and neither has played at a consistent enough level to warrant a place in the starting 11 for England either.
The Chelsea influence within the England squad was surely a factor in Cole’s inclusion. Comments from Frank Lampard and John Terry talking up their Chelsea mate following England’s recent friendlies were timely reminders to Capello that Cole could still do a job for England. Cole and Wright-Phillips are better at tracking back to help out their defence when they don’t have the ball compared to Walcott.
The bottom line is Walcott is failed to impress in any of England’s recent internationals, failed to create any goals for his strikers and most importantly of all appears to have failed to heed his manager’s specific tactical instructions.
Walcott has only himself to blame for not being on the plane to South Africa but credit the young winger for taking the news so gallantly and responding with words of encouragement for his manager and squad heading off to South Africa.
Walcott’s time will come but for this summer he will just have to sit back and watch the drama unfold like every other English supporter.
Ger McCarthy is author of the book entitled \’Off Centre Circle’, available on Amazon, which chronicles the curious life of an amateur Irish footballer.